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Othello Chose His Fate Essay

1087 words - 4 pages

The play "Othello the Moor of Venice," is one of Shakespeare's great tragedies. That being so, for every tragedy, there is the tragic hero- a man that is, at bottom, truly honorable and good, but plagued by a flaw that causes his fateful undoing. The question then arises whether there is sufficient evidence to all-together condemn Othello as a malevolent and innately evil man, or such evidence that he was simply deceived by Iago's treachery and should be excused for his actions. Yet, as the play unfolds, it is clear that no such solid line can be drawn. That is, we are given evidence that rather suggests that Othello's dynamic role as the tragic hero manipulates the very virtue of his greatness to his demise. It is Othello's passion, the same one that makes him a great general and noble husband, that sparks his jealousy and leads to his fall and that of those around him.

The image first given of Othello and those throughout much of the play provide abundant evidence of Othello's virtue. A passionate and dedicated man, Othello exceeds in all that he does. He is not only a warrior and the general in the army, but a man respected by his contemporaries. The senator endears him as "the valiant Moor" (I.III.47-48) and by the governor, "gentle signior" (I.III.50). We see that Othello has nothing to hide, no guilt to shoulder. When advised that he should flee from Brabantio's wrath, Othello answers saying: "I fetch my life and being from noble siege (I.II.21-22)...I must be found. My parts, my title, and my perfect soul shall manifest me rightly (I.II.30-32). When faced with false charges of drugging and abducting Desdemona, he handles matters with forthrightness and nobility. To Brabantio and the members of the senate, Othello eloquently states: "Rude am I in my speech and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace" (I.III.81-83), and continues to explain how it was not by magic or drugs that he won over Desdemona, but by his stories of virtue and his unadulterated love for her. Desdemona's own account provides further evidence of Othello's innocence. She recounts: "My heart's subdued even to the very quality of my lord. I saw Othello's visage in his mind, and to his honors and his valiant parts did I my soul and fortunes consecrate" (I.III.251-255). Another of Othello's qualities, one that makes him susceptible to Iago's trickery, is that of his naivety. Iago recognizes this saying: "The Moor is of a free and open nature that thinks men honest" (I.III.399-400). It is upon this quality that Iago begins to play Othello.

At the onset of the play, Iago is presented as a cunning snake in the grass, the antagonist of the play, and a catalyst that sets Othello into a downward spiral of jealousy, suspicion, rage, and violence- respectively. Angered that Othello appointed Cassio, and not himself as lieutenant, Iago seeks vengeance. An evil and truly deceitful man, Iago's hatred of Othello is masked behind false rhetoric and manipulation, but vividly...

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